Iowa Wild- Alex Tuch

Alex Tuch, Syracuse NY, is a right wing/center and was drafted in the 1st round by the Minnesota Wild. At six foot four his size alone makes it easier to protect the puck, he towers over other players and it makes for an impressive forcheck. Tuch spend two years at Boston College and this is his first season with the Iowa Wild. I got to talk with him after the Moose vs Wild game in Grand Forks ND on October 7 2016.

When making the decision to sign this year he said he wanted to take the next step and wanted to work on his development as a hockey player. Boston College is also upholding his scholarship for the next five years, Tuch has every intention on finishing his degree. Even though he was pretty solid in his decision to leave and start his professional career he misses the college and the people. Tuch said that his favorite part of the wild is the fans, being in the state of hockey. They have a large following at Boston but nothing too crazy but nothing compared to Minnesota. “It’s defiantly a special place to play and a great organization all around.” He wants to work on his game away from the puck defensively, puck management through the neutral zone. When talking about who he models his game after he said Corey Perry. Tuch went through the National Team development program, Ann Arbor, was incredible. The biggest thing that helped him was the strength coach, Darryl Nelson, turned him into a leaner, stronger player with a better base on the ice. Tuch also believes that the military off ice discipline aspect really helped, along with moving away from home. The organization as a whole was just a great place to develop.

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Tucker Poolman: From A Dream to Reality

Tucker Poolman is an East Grand Forks native. Growing up in Grand Forks, he noted that he enjoyed playing with his brothers and friends, playing hockey, or hanging out. Tucker attended many University of North Dakota (UND) men’s hockey games, and that is when the dream started!

Tucker is your average college student. He likes watching movies and is currently watching the HBO series, Game of Thrones. He said that it is pretty good so far. He doesn’t have “any superstitions that are too crazy or strange hobbies,”as Tucker put it.  Due to his sentimental attachment to his home state, Minnesota, he enjoys supporting the Vikings and Twins. Being from a city like Grand Forks/East Grand Forks, where there so much support for all hockey teams from peewee to college, significantly impacted Tucker’s decision to attend UND to play DI hockey. He played for East Grand Forks high school and then went on to play for three years in Juniors. Before deciding to join Mark, who is a strength coach for the men’s hockey team, at UND for the 2013-2014 season.

At age 20, which is the oldest that a United States or Canadian player can be drafted, Tucker was selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the 5th round. Colton Poolman, his younger brother or little Poolman as the team calls him, said that while they were watching the draft at home. When Tucker’s name came across the screen, their mother, LeAnne started to cry. Mark, their father, was shouting. Tucker and Colton just looked at each other with stunned faces. In the years following being drafted has not changed Tucker’s ambitions in life, and he keeps grounded with his family.

Gage Ausmus, long-time teammate and friend, describes Tucker as “a massive human being.” Ausmus had nothing but very positive things to say about the junior defenseman. He stated “One of the best things about Tucker is that he has had to work for everything he has gotten, nothing has been given to him.”  He also said that Tucker “is a great role model for kids because he is proof that hard work pays off.” Tucker said with appreciation, “It was just a huge honor, but it doesn’t change much for me. I am still going to go out and do what I did before.” He is a natural leader and doesn’t let things get him overly excited. Little Poolman said, “It’s almost like he doesn’t have a heartbeat out there. Nothing get’s him overly excited on the ice. When I come back to the bench after a bad play and hang my head, He just tells me keep your head up.” These are some of the reasons Tucker was voted to be an assistant captain for the 2016-2017 season.

The Winnipeg Jets were pressuring Tucker to sign an entry level contract this season. Despite this he wanted to stay at UND to play with Colton and to finish his degree in business economics, which he expects to complete in three years. Colton and Tucker have never been able to play on the same team together even though they are only two and a half years apart. “Little Poolman”, as the team calls Colton, said that being on the team is such an honor to be able to finally play with Tucker in organized hockey. Tucker spoke with pride “You know it’s a little different, it’s not something I was used to. We just try and keep it professional”  when referring to working with his father and brother on the same team.

Outside of having a strong relationship with his family and friends, Tucker has a unique hockey career. After graduating from East Grand Forks, he went to play for the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the NAHL for the 2011-2012 season. Throughout 59 games (out of 60) of this season, he scored seven goals and made 22 assists. For 2012-2013, he started playing for the Omaha Lancers. He stayed for throughout the 2013-2014 season. During the second season, he was named USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year, and he also served as team captain. During that season with the Lancers, the defenseman set a franchise record with 25 goals with 26 assists in 58 games, which is exciting. Coming to UND has not changed Tucker’s ability to put points on the board. In 83 games, he has had 14 goals and 31 assists.  Already this season, he has one goal and three assists in three games.

During the off-season, Tucker attended the Winnipeg Jets development camp, which is a four-day long training event were they work with their professional coaching staff and players. After returning, he gave the enlightening remark on how he could improve his performance, “It helps a lot, lots of good players there obviously, but you know just seeing how an NHL team does things and you can learn from all the players and coaches.”

This season, with only seven returning upper classmen keeping the motivation up, is going to be an adjustment. Tucker said, “It’s just the nature of college hockey. Every year, it is a new group of guys, and you have to find each other’s strengths and weaknesses.” This is going to make a returning appearance at the NCAA DI men’s national championship more difficult. That UND won last season, UND won the national championship in Tampa, Florida. This ended a 16-year drought, this was also the 8th national title banner to be raised in the Ralph Engelstad Arena. When asked about keeping the focus said nonchalantly, “you try to put it behind you and keep working towards new goals and hopefully try and win again!” Tucker said that coming back from the win was an amazing experience and that the team is looking forward to making another long playoff run this year.dsc_1154

A Snarky Sentence-30 Quips on the NHL

With the NHL season starting tonight here is a quick one sentence outlook for each NHL team. It will be snarky, it may not be nice, and its all in good fun. Plus I guarantee I will be wrong on at least half of these sentences by the end of the season.

Eastern Conference -(team order is random… not projecting order of finish)

  1. Atlantic Division
    1. Toronto
      1. Give up hat tricks for Patrick? (Brandon forward  Nolan Patrick who is the projected number one pick as of today).
    2. Boston
      1. Slow and slower…the 2016-2017 Zdeno Chara experience.
    3. Florida
      1. Father time leads the future.
    4. Ottawa
      1. Scoring not named Karlsson..does enough of it exist?
    5. Detroit
      1. Everybody gets another first round playoff exit!
    6. Canadiens
      1. Is Price alright?
    7. Tampa Bay
      1. Win now because not enough not enough money exists to pay for later.
    8. Buffalo
      1. So many free agents, so little depth.
  2. Metropolitan
    1. Carolina
      1. Can they Ward off last place?
    2. Pittsburgh
      1. How many weapons does Crosby need?
    3. Washington
      1. Any year now Ovie.
    4. New York Islanders
      1. Who steps up with Tavares?
    5. New York Rangers
      1. The king needs more scoring to help in defending the Garden.
    6. Columbus
      1. Does Bob still have it?
    7. Flyers
      1. Can Hak do it again?
    8. New Jersey Devils
      1. Help out Schneider, please.
  3. Pacific
    1. Anaheim
      1. What can Randy do that Bruce couldn’t?
    2. Los Angeles
      1. How much grit can one team have?
    3. Edmonton
      1. Larsson may be good, but he’s no Hall.
    4. Calgary
      1. Can Elliot stop the goalie carousel?
    5. Vancouver
      1. So fast, so little secondary scoring.
    6. San Jose
      1. Can Bodker speed a return to the Cup?
    7. Arizona
      1. So fast,so skilled, so unproven.
  4. Central
    1. Chicago
      1. So many rookies, so much leadership,Western Conference Finals?
    2. Minnesota
      1. Slow, overpaid, and no depth.
    3. Colorado
      1. Can the defense help out?
    4. Winnipeg
      1. People should ham up Laine’s skills more.
    5. Dallas
      1. Seguin will be sensational.
    6. St. Louis
      1. The Tarasenkshow continues.
    7. Nashville
      1. P.K. will play well, can Rinne still produce?

Manitoba Moose-Jack Roslovic

Columbus, OH native Jack Roslovic  was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1st round in 2015. A center and right wing, he has played in multiple leagues over the years.Jack scored 52 points during his two years  in 59 USHL games with the USA National Team Development Program.

Even though he is only 19 Roslovic plays a very physical game with an offensive edge and has great foot speed.

Currently playing for the Manitoba Moose, I had the opportunity to watch him play and get to talk with him after the game.

When asking why he decided to sign this year instead of returning to Miami University. He thought it was the best for his development and that the Jets could do wonders for his career.

Over the summer, Roslovic worked on getting bigger, faster and stronger. I asked him what he thinks he needs to work on to make it to the next level, he said he just needs to work the systems and listen to the coaching staff.

We also talked briefly about his time at Oxford and what he would miss most, the guys and the brotherhood he felt when he was there.

I asked him what player past or present that he models his game after and his response was no one. He studies as many players as he can so that he can combine parts of their game and develop his own style.

Jones adds long time friend to coaching staff

Today marks a new season for the Fighting Hawks Men’s Basketball Team as they bring in a new assistant coach, Brad Davidson. Head Coach, Brian Jones, said today that he only likes to hire people he trusts. Davidson played almost 20 years ago in the Australia’s professional league with Jones. Since then Davidson ended a 13-year professional career in 2009 with an astounding 600 3-pointers and 40.1 percent clip from beyond the arc, giving him the honor of having one of the NBL’s all-time best percentages. For the last seven years he has spent time as a coach.

Davidson, arrived on Friday evening with his family and will start practice with the team on Friday. Jones is hoping that with Davidson’s experience with the international players that more will want to attend UND. The coach and his family are happy to be here. They  did note the need to get bigger coats to prepare for winter.

UND Football 3 Thoughts-On to the Hornets

After a key win over Cal Poly at home, UND football heads out west to take on Sacramento State. Here are some thoughts on the game last week, and this week.

  1. Eric Schmidt needs a pay raise. The Fighting Hawks’ defensive coordinator has completely made over this defense from its Pre-Bubba (head coach Bubba Schweigert) days. UND swarmed Cal Poly all day and forced them to completely alter their gameplan. The strong play of defensive tackle Tank Harris forced Cal Poly into more passing situations. In addition, Deion Harris has played so well this season that Cal Poly exclusively focused on Torrey Hunt’s side. This allowed UND to dial up more blitzes and rush Cal Poly’s timing.
  2. Keaton Studsrud is slowly getting better in first quarters. This was his best week as UND played turnover free in the first quarter and set itself up to do well in the rest of the game. Keaton did all this with a backup center and a patchwork offensive line.
  3. Give Brady Olivera 25 or more carries every week. Give John Santiago 15-20 when he is healthy and split him out wide more. Olivera is playing the best football of his career. His run where he absolutely ran over a defensive lineman reminded me of Marshawn Lynch’s bruising run against the Saints in the 2011 NFL Playoffs. Olivera’s play is reminiscent of Lynch, strong in space with a quick burst and the ability to generate enormous yards after contact. If UND runs formations with Santiago at the wing and Olivera in the back field, defense becomes much harder for the opposition. Who do you target? The guy that can make you miss or the guy that can run you over? If Santiago plays more wideout with Olivera as a running back, this opens up a new dimension for UND. They could even run a triple option out of a non-traditional triple option formation.

Three thoughts on the Opening game against Manitoba

Three thoughts from the men’s hockey game.

 

  • Cam Johnson, looked great. Seems solid in the crease and doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of rust to shake off before season opener on Friday against Canisius. Tomek seemed a little out of place and stiff on Saturday, but he hasn’t had much game play in the last two years. Hrynkiw looked smooth and didn’t seem to have a whole lot of issues following the puck, even with a mess of players crowding the lane. I am interested in seeing who will most likely will spend more time dressing as the backup

 

  • The lines have been on everyone’s mind since the end of the year when Caggiula announced that he would not be returning this season. First line looked good with Gersich, Jost and Boeser, but I think that Poganski and Janatuinen will soon be spending time playing with Boeser on the same line. 2nd line Janatuinen, Gardner and Poganski looked good together, they flowed well and didn’t seem to have issues finding each other. Hoff, Simonson and Wilkie will most likely stay together on the third.  On the fourth line Olson, Bowen and Yon are most likely staying together unless one makes a dramatic change or injuries occur.

 

  •          The Fighting Hawks looked solid in general. They seemed slow for most of the first period, maybe it is just first game jitters? I mean the Fighting Hawks have a lot of pressure on them coming off of winning a national championship and a lot of critics saying that the team is not as solid after losing most of the upper-class men to professional contracts. The leadership team (Ausmus, Poolman, Boeser and Poganski) have some things to overcome but I think they are just the group of men to lead the team on to another playoff run.

Hockey Media Day- Ryan “Bob” Anderson

I got the chance to meetup with Ryan Anderson, known to the team as Bob. Now a sophomore has made waves.He made the team as a walk on last season and earned spots on both the Dean’s list (Fall 15) and then the President’s Honor Roll (Spring 16). He also received the Tom Hoghaug Memorial Scholarship, which is given to freshman who shows initiative, character and responsibility.

After playing in juniors for 2014-2015 season, he was ready to “Hang up the skates”. Anderson won the same amount of games Tomek did in the 14-15 season. Bob had been in contact with  UND’s coaches and the week before school started got a phone call about an opportunity to walk on because of an injury to Tomek.

Before coming to UND, Anderson had played in the NAHL for the Wilderness, he said that playing there gave him a lot of experience because he had the opportunity to play a lot of games.

Ryan is majoring in Clinical Lab Science and was inspired by some friends he knew working in the Roseau hospital lab, where he grew up. He also wanted to be able to finish in four years.

Anderson takes inspiration from a few past University of North Dakota goaltenders, such as Jean-Philippe Lamoureux and Aaron Dell. This year he would like to practice hard and be ready at any time, should he need to step into the net. Ryan thought that Brock Boeser has the most accurate shot, while Tucker Poolman has the hardest shot.